And so you might ask, what’s the difference in practicing outside? I remember the first international yoga retreat I attended as a student where we were outside the entire time and the surprises I encountered. Granted I was no stranger to outdoor yoga but that only meant on my deck or front porch not on a grassy hill. So in preparation for going on an amazing yoga retreat here’s the inside scoop about outdoor practice.
5 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT OUTDOOR YOGA
- Pick Your Yoga Outfit Carefully: If it’s sunny and you want to get your tan on then dress in your favorite shorts or capris (my favorites are lululemon boogie shorts) and be mindful of strap marks. This is not the time to wear the funkiest yoga top or tan lines will be an issue. Don’t forget always tan safely by using SPF. And if its more on the cool side then be sure to wear layers and bring something to cover up in final relaxation (Savasana). And don’t forget your eye pillow or something to cover your eyes to help lessen the distractions or sun in your eyes when on your back.
- Choose your Mat Real Estate Space Wisely: If you’re in a park or on a grassy mountain the ground will be more uneven in some places than others. So put your landscape view on and pick out your best real estate for your mat. If you have a tough time hearing your teacher then for sure find a place closer to the middle front and nearest your teacher. Being outdoors sound doesn’t travel as far as it does in a contained studio environment.
- Bring your Second Favorite Yoga Mat: The mat you use outside will keep small remnants of your outdoor yoga adventure so be sure to pick one that won’t easily get grass stains (or one you don’t care if it stains or gets dirt on it). My first Italy Yoga Retreat yoga mat was light pink and still carries the grass stains of Tuscany on it. And some mats (brands will remain nameless) will break down in the sun and heat of the outdoors resulting in such drying out that you won’t feel like you can get a grip when you take them back in doors. Try lululemon mats and you’ll be safe. I’d be bummed if you ruined a mat from practicing outside. And if you have sensitive knees bring a little blanket to use as padding for poses like low lunge.
- Expect Visitors: When outside all of the little creatures you don’t normally see will join you on your mat. Little guys like ants or bugs. The less you feel bothered by them the better. And if so inclined then be prepared and use bug spray (something kind to the earth, healthy for you). Also if outside in a public place be ready to expect people to stop and look at you, take photos of you, sometimes even come over and talk to you. This is your chance to practice compassion and community. Don’t get mad, be kind and inspire them by demonstrating the joy yoga brings you in practice.
- Allow Yourself to Open Up to Something Greater: Being outside in contact with mother earth and father sky connects you to your ancestors who made it possible for you to be on the mat today and at the same time breath out your legacy for all those that come after you. Your breath will be bigger, your gazing point (drishti) will feel more limitless by looking up at the sky, and you can easily be moved towards a more inward place. Don’t be surprised as you move into the koshas, layers of yourself, that you cry, laugh, feel the largeness of you when outdoors.